Monday, April 20, 2015

Brazil Connection #2 - Lê Almeida

I consider myself a fairly eclectic person. If you browse through my profile, you will see I have played music by many different artists, each with their own distinct sound, and I can say I at least like about 95% of those. Still, some things just speak to us so directly that every time we hear something like that, we are instantly grabbed. To me, that’s good pop music played with loud guitars.

When I started liking music “for real”, I started listening to indie guitar bands from the 90’s. Nirvana probably started it all for me, and from thereon I got into Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Guided by Voices, Yo La Tengo, and what not. It helped that at the time the Brazilian MTV had a great show dedicated to bands like that. It would go on at 2, 3 AM, but I would watch it, every chance I got. The beautiful pop melodies led by distorted, many times roughly recorded guitars fascinated me. As I started to learn English, I also fell in love with the lyrics of most of those songs. And that’s still going strong to this day.

When I first listened to Lê Almeida’s music, I could relate to it instantly, I could tell this was someone who was into that same stuff. And he was good! Immediately I thought of Guided By Voices. The melodies, the lo-fi, DIY ethos, it was all there. And indeed, I later discovered that Robert Pollard is a major influence on Almeida.

Lê Almeida started his own independent record label in 2004, Transfusão Noise Records, out of the backyard of a small house in a Rio de Janeiro suburb. He would record his own music and friends’ bands right out on the yard, under a blue canvas. They would together records that from the beginning showed how much care went into them, inside and out.

Ten years later, Transfusão Noise moved into a building in downtown Rio de Janeiro, where they continue to record lo-fi records, as well as promote shows and other activities. They have an impressive catalog of releases, all by other excellent guitar-driven acts. Almeida himself plays on many of them as well.

His latest LP, Paraleloplasmos, just came out recently, and was recorded at the new space. The change of setting did change Lê Ameida’s music: it seems to have opened the possibility for more experimentation, with more instruments and some new tricks. Underneath it all, however, the spirit is still the same: the guitar is still loud and the hooks will still get you. And although non-Portuguese speakers won’t know it, his lyrics are even better this time around; full of honesty and emotion. The last track of the record, Lindomavel, is a little masterpiece, both lyrically and musically.

But even those who don’t speak Portuguese will have a great time with Le Almeida’s music. He has a knack for creating pop melodies and dressing them up in distortion that should appeal to anyone who loves that kind of music. If you like any of the bands I’ve mentioned here, you owe it to yourself to give it a listen. Paraleloplasmos is being released in the US via Lost Sound Tapes and Jigsaw Records. You can also get his released on Bandcamp

Here's a couple of my favourite tracks, one from each of his LPs:

1 comment:

  1. PS: I'm trying to draw the band I write about every week, but this week it wasn't possible due to work and family commitments. As soon as things normalize, I will get back at doing that.